Archive for October, 2002
Mark came over for a surprise visit. We talked a lot about the C&C leadership team weekend. It was a very positive discussion. It felt good to bounce things off of him. James joined in and I think we worked through some stuff.
I realize that my last blog entry about that retreat carried a very negative tone. I was feeling pretty negative about things at the time. I feel better now. I think there is some good potential for this ministry. I still have issues with the ministry model, but I have confidence in the leadership.
My love for Modernism
I’m correcting a truck load of assignments today. I’m wading through and analyzing the students work and I see the awful taint of modern evangelicalism all over them.
This may seem weird but in my head I was speaking to modern evangelicalism it sounded a lot like Braveheart.
Robert (me): Die! I want you to die.
Leper (Modernism): Soon enough I’ll be dead.
Robert (Me): I don’t want anything from you. You’re not a man, and you’re not my father.
Ok, so I’m a bit weird. I found myself saying “Die! I want you to die!” quite a bit.
I’m listening to sappy 80’s music to tame my troubled heart. “I’ve been waiting for someone new, to make me feel alive, yeah waiting for a girl like you to come in to my life”. Ooooh, feel the synth!
Tonight I was stunned
My friends the LDS missionaries were over tonight. One I knew and another just transferred in. We engaged in a wonderful conversation. We were talking about faith based or works based righteousness. I was really impressed with the depth of our dialogue.
I was totally surprised at how much mormons and Christians think the same. If you look at the daily life of both they are fairly similar. On a deeper level the theology is very different, but on the surface the difference far less noticable. I could have been debating Christians, and the discussion would have been the same. The only difference is that the Mormons were more passionate and more sincere. There is little wonder why they recruit so many in to their church.
I so wish that I could see the passion I saw tonight in Christians. If the Christian church is really as connected to God as it thinks it is it would be very different from the way it is now. It really would.
Judgement is worth it
Last spring I went through a terribly difficult time. My life was put under a microsope and not everyone liked what they saw. This is difficult. What made it more difficult is there was a mix of legitimate concerns and illegimate accusation. I was wounded through the whole process. To search for the truth I put myself through the ringer and gathered positive and negative feedback from people that knew me well.
I limped through to the end of the year happy to return to a summer of programming and websites. It hurt. It sucked, but I’m starting to see some benefits.
Recently someone accused me of being arrogant. It is a character trait that has certainly manifested itself in the past. Before I started a long introspective/seeking God type of journey to determine the depths of my sin I remembered the agonizing process I went through last spring. Out of all the feedback I received nobody came out to say that I was arrogant. Once you submit yourself to a microsope, other peoples opinions don’t bother you as much.
Sometimes the judgement we receive isn’t fair. But once we go through it we can help others through it as well. A good friend here at the college was struggling with his reputation. His reputation, like most, isn’t accurate.
(I’m sometimes appalled at how much people talk like they know somebody when they really don’t. The problem of gossip isn’t that people talk, it’s that people feel they have the right to hold an uninformed opinion.)
It was good to be able to convey all the things I learned through the process to encourage him. Plus I knew the words he needed to hear to bolster his confidence.
This week I’m experiencing some fallout from an article I wrote in the college newspaper. The governing student committee formulated a vision statement that I felt was weak. So I wrote a short criticism of the vision statement in the school newspaper. I had no idea who actually wrote the vision, I was criticizing it from a ideological perspective.
I received praise for the article from at least one member of faculty and the paper itself has received nothing but rave reviews from students.
This isn’t the first time I’ve made someone upset with me. Usually I’m pretty quick to back down and play nice. This time I think I’m going to hold my ground. I believe whole heartedly what I wrote was legitimate, thoughtful criticism. I don’t desire to hurt anyones feelings, least of all my friends. I am genuinely concerned that I’ve caused a good friend whom I respect some discomfort. However, I must hold to my convictions.
In the church we are often far too timid to address bad theology. We value a stale harmony over the truth. Why are we so afraid to disagree? Are we so sensitve that people can’t challenge us.
We need real discernment.
Internship Journal II – Excellent Class
I just finished teaching the 5th of a set of 5 classes. I have to conclude that I really love teaching. This is especially true when I teach stuff that can really change lives. Talking about brokeness and surrender in relation to what Paul writes in Romans 6 is a little more exciting than headcoverings in 1Corinthians. All in all its good.
Through the whole teaching process I’ve identified that the teacher needs to establish trust. Those you are teaching are better able to learn when they know the teacher and can relate to them. The more the students got to know me, the more they were at ease to participate and enter in to the conversation.
I have to say that I was really inspired today. What I saw in the class room gave me hope that the church really can inspire people to significantly deepen, or begin an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. This might seem like a no brainer to those who have seen church ministries change lives. It’s seem so very rare to me.
I’ve learned that I often say “you” instead of “we” when I talk or teach. For example I might say “You really need to experience brokenness for God to change your life” instead of “We really need”. My friend Mark Trew pointed that out to me this weekend. Although when I said “you” I usually meant “we”, it gives people the impression that I don’t lump myself in what I’m saying. I found myself doing that in class today, so I think that is something I’m going to look out for.
Blogger was nice but constricting. I looked at Movable Type, but I didn’t want to install Perl on my nice new Win2k server. I couldn’t locate a decent ASP/asp.net blog app. So I built some server side blog software in ColdFusion. I think I’ll call it CF_Blog!. This is now powered by CF_Blog!
Look for comments to come soon.
This weekend I participated in my first leadership retreat in many years. I spent the last couple of days with the College and Career leadership team.
As I consider what I’m going to write I feel the tension between being authentic and being sensitive. I came away from this weekend feeling very frustrated. I think people came away from the weekend frustrated with me. I’m pretty new to the leadership team and I came in with a less than stellar view of the current ministry. I think my attitude bled through to my words and it offended people. I believe I could have been more sensitive but I really believe what I said was true.
I challenged the group a lot. I tried to apply what I’ve learned from experience and my training but I felt like I was talking in a different language. I believe I came in with a different agenda. I want to grapple the problem of the churches weakness in discipleship and leadership training, and most others just wanted to improve C&C. Maybe I need to let go of that agenda, or take it somewhere else.
I have issues with the very nature of this ministry. I really want to relfect deeply on those issues here but I don’t think it would be appropriate. I think it’s fair to say that I’m grappling with whether I really believe in the nature of the ministry and whether or not it can succeed in accomplishing it’s mission. This might seem harsh, but our C&C is a very different animal. It’s an individual congregations C&C that grew so large it has become a city wide ministry. It’s so large that more than 3/4 of the people are associated with other churches. I just can’t see how a ministry that isn’t a church, would fulfill the purposes of the church without being closely connected with one.
I’m also looking very hard at myself. Am I the typical ministry trainee with his/her head in the clouds and feet far from the ground. I’ve really been impressed with I’ve learned and I’m excited to apply it to real life. Am I impatient? Am I being unrealistic? In 10 years of ministry training, reflection and experience I know that I’m the kind of person that likes to dream big. I’m trying to formulate a type of ministry that carries the strengths of bible college in to the cities and a local church/mission context. It’s absolutely huge and probably well out of my ability to carry out. I’m jazzed about the idea and I want to go for it.
Posted by LT in on October 24, 2002
Once a week I’m supposed to write down my reflections on how my internship is helping me achieve my goals. I have 11 different types of tasks and I’m supposed to reflect on each one. I look at the long list of stuff and I really don’t know where to begin.
The biggest failing of academics in the realm of discipleship is the necessity of measuring people by a common standard. The whole process is depersonalized. I can’t simply reflect on how the Internship has helped as a whole, I need to comment in 11 different categories. To fulfill the requirements I would likely have “BS” my way through my reflections. In my first 2 months I’ve found the following.
People change, learn and grow at bible school
Unlike many ministries I’ve encountered this type has some success. People come out of bible school with bible knowledge and some ministry experience. Most aren’t ready for fulltime ministry but they are more ready at the end then when they started.
People want to be inspired
If you challenge people in the right way they do respond. If you are authentic and honest and earnestly desire the best for the people you minister to the people respond. I love teaching classes when people are expecting to have their life changed.
Standing up and talking to group of people who are compelled to sit and listen to you isn’t the most effective way to impart knowledge or inspiration. The best kinds of teachers create a learning environment where self discovery happens. More and more I’m trying to challenge people with hard questions so they are spurred on to find answers. I’d really like to blow their minds with some hard core post-modern stuff, but I think I’ll leave that to Joel Mowchenko.
Academics tempts people to do what they can to get the best mark, rather than learn. In correcting some assignments many people copy answers out of the text book. It’s really humerous when they look for the right answer in the text and quote the position opposite of which the author holds. It’s even more funny when the answer they give is so ridiculous it is obvious they really didn’t think about what they were doing. I do enjoy marking. It helps my analysis skills. It gives me insight to the mind and character of the average evangelical Christian.
Institution values vrs Kingdom values
There seems to be a subtle but prevelant deception that can occur in any religious instution. People become more focused on the ideals and workings of the instution than that of the kingdom of God or common sense. Ministry work becomes so consuming that there is less time and less inclination to connect with people on a signficant level.
I haven’t observed a lot of people striving or struggling to pursue ministry excellence. It’s a little easier for me because I’m a rookie and my growth areas can be rather obvious. I have to be pursuing excellence just so I can work at the same level as the people around me. I don’t see a lot of people thinking about how they can improve their personal minstry.
Lack of Urgency
In my mind the church is in dire trouble. It’s influence on the world is waning. There is a serious lack of leaders and leadership at the pastoral level. The people in the church aren’t much different than the people outside. These facts lead me to the conclusion that radical change is require to reverse this trend. At school I see very little sense of urgency, and even less willingness to follow courageous change.
There is more than I could talk about…perhaps tomorrow.